Typically, only a fraction of a company’s information assets consist of structured data, or in other words, data that is automatically arranged and accessed by business applications. The most common example of structured data is a database where specific information is stored based on a methodology of columns and rows.
On the other hand, unstructured data are files that accumulate haphazardly on hard drives and shared server folders, unrelated to an overarching framework. Unstructured information can range from contracts, reports, and spreadsheets, to presentations, videos, and photos.
The essential problem with traditional file management and storage techniques (such as manual filing or shared network folders) is that companies have little control over –or even knowledge of — their unstructured files. It is dependent upon individual users to remember the names of files, their contents, and their storage locations.
In this environment, folder structures that start out in with some semblance of logic quickly sprawl into disorganization because there are no mechanisms governing naming conventions of files or the creation of folders. Documents get misfiled, misnamed, duplicated and mistaken for other versions.
The Cloud Can Provide Much-Needed Organization to Stored Documents and Data
Firms that have implemented a cloud-based document management system have an opportunity to take a smarter approach to company-wide file management and sharing that keeps all content organized and tracked. Such companies can effectively manage their digital content and avoid the typical pitfalls of chaotic folder structures.
Indexing each stored item with keywords and other metadata (or tags) gives a file a unique identity. When all items are structured in the cloud with associated metadata tags, users can query and cross-reference digital archives in many different ways. They can also sort files by different metadata tags or properties based on the context, for instance, by type, by date, by authorship, or by any custom, user-defined metadata.
In the new M-Files white paper, Document Management in the Cloud: Storing and Organizing Files and Records in a Hosted Environment, we discuss how cloud-based document management systems that employ a metadata approach to organizing and displaying files can eliminate the chaos associated with ad-hoc and often chaotic traditional folder-based methods.